Funeral services will be private for Northridge resident William E. Jones, avid pilot and local businessman who died last week in a plane crash near Palm Springs.
Jones and a friend from Redman, Wash., left Van Nuys Airport on Feb. 4 in separate Navy T-28 planes for a gathering of T-28 pilots in Thermal, Calif. Wreckage of the planes was found Saturday on Quail Peak, about 15 miles northeast of Palm Springs, officials said. There were no survivors.
The 72-year-old Jones, who was known by friends as Bill, was remembered as a unique person who never missed an opportunity to talk about aircraft.
"He was not only a man of wealth, but a man who was good of heart. He was 6-foot-3, but it was more like he was 12 feet tall," said Marty Weisinger, whose stepdaughter Terry was Jones' daughter-in-law.
Raised in Burbank, Jones served in the merchant marine during World War II. He later opened two gas stations in Burbank, but found success when he and a business partner started Aircraft Cylinder in Sun Valley, which is now run by Jones' younger son, Wayne.
Jones also owned Technical Heaters, an aircraft hose manufacturing company in San Fernando, which his older son, Bruce, now operates.
When not building equipment for planes, Jones was flying one of his many aircraft kept at Van Nuys Airport.
In addition to his sons, Jones is survived by his wife of 51 years, Darlene, and four grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the charity of the donor's choice.